We've now worked our way through how a wine gets its flavor - from the grape, the skins, seeds and stems, fermentation, barrel aging and last time we touched on bottle aging. There we learned that most wines are not meant for long-term bottle aging. But, what does make a bottle of wine age worthy?
It may seem obvious, but the color and the type of grape are very important. Red wines are best at bottle aging because of their natural tannin from the grape skin, seeds and stem as well as from barrel aging. This is most common in Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. White wines generally don't age well and should be consumed young.
The vintage, or the year the grapes were grown, can significantly affect a wine's ability to age well. The balance of tannin and acid in a particular year may lend the resulting wine to better aging prospects.
Where the wine is from can also affect its ability to age. There are key regions, such as Bordeaux France and Napa California that produce very age-worthy grapes.
And finally, storage conditions are also key. Wines must be stored in cool conditions (~58 degrees F) and away from light. Even a great wine will quickly be damaged by heat and light.
Next time, we'll take a look at specific regions and wines for their age worthiness. You may be surprised by some of the guidelines. Until then, Cheers!